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Random Thoughts

A Xenophobic Law that Discriminates Against the Poor – Britain in 2017

Once upon a time, a long time ago, I used to be a law student. I went to a top law university and then did a Masters in law. Why did I study law? I wanted to be a judge and change the world. I cared about justice. In fact, nothing fills me with more disgust than a bad law. What is a bad law? A law that is xenophobic. A law that discriminates against foreigners. A law that attacks the poor. Until recently, there has been such a law in place controlling immigration and marriage in our country.

            Since 2012, there has been a minimum income in place before Britons can bring a husband or wife from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and settle them in the UK. The Supreme Court is now going to decide on whether British born citizens can be lawfully stopped from bringing a foreign spouse to the UK (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-39042445 ).

            The law is clearly xenophobic. It constructs foreigners as burdens on the state. As the BBC website states, “[t]he rule was introduced by the former coalition government to stop foreign spouses becoming reliant on taxpayers.” The supposed intention of the law is to stop foreigners making claims upon the state.

            However, the intention to prevent the burdening of the state is not the major intention behind the law. Because the law deliberately doesn’t take into account rich foreigners or foreigners with a high earning capacity. As the BBC website states, “[t]he current rules do not take into account the earnings of the overseas partner – even if they have higher qualifications, or are likely to be employed in higher-paid work than their British spouse.” The law doesn’t only try to prevent the burdening of the state and the tax payer. The law is against foreigners in principle. They are all seen as undesirable. The law is xenophobic to its core.

            The law clearly targets the poor. Not just the poor, in fact, but almost half of the population in Britain. Britons must earn more than £18,600 before they can bring in a spouse to the UK from abroad. As the BBC website states, “[t]he minimum income threshold, which also affects people settled in the UK as refugees, rises to £22,400 if the couple have a child who does not have British citizenship – and then by an additional £2,400 for each subsequent child.” As campaigners state, according to the BBC website, “nearly half of the British population earns less than the income barrier, meaning they would be affected if they chose a foreign-born spouse.” A law which stops the poorer among us from marrying according to their wishes can never be justified. It is particularly unjustifiable when it affects a large number of the populace in our country.

How can such a xenophobic law which discriminates against the poor, and almost half of Britain, be justified? It is amazing that it hasn’t been invalidated already after five years. I await the results of the Supreme Court judgement because it is not just the law that it in question. The ideal of justice in our country is also in question.



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